Series Review: The Good Lord Bird (2020)

We all agree that slavery was one of the worst things in human history, right? Alright, good. At least we’re on the same page on that.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Good Lord Bird”.

The story follows Henry “Onion” Shackleford (Joshua Caleb Johnson), a young slave who gets freed by abolitionist John Brown (Ethan Hawke) and then joins his merry band of freedom fighters. And we follow Onion as he follows along on Brown’s crusade to free the slaves. What I found fascinating about “The Good Lord Bird” is the interesting use of of tonal shifts to tell its story. While at its core it’s a serious drama about the liberation of shackled people, the writers use a surprising amount of comedy throughout, which adds quite a bit of nuance to proceedings. But it’s not just a tonally unique slavery drama, but it’s also largely a coming of age story, since we get to see how this young boy gets to evolve while following along with Brown’s crusade. And while this sounds like it could be quite messy, it really isn’t. I found the story here to be utterly engrossing and entertaining, having me utterly engaged throughout the seven episodes.

The characters in this are colorful, flawed, surprisingly layered (like an onion, HA!), and really entertaining. Joshua Caleb Johnson plays Onion, the young slave who becomes part of Brown’s gang. He has quite an interesting and highly enjoyable personal arc in this, while also serving as the audience in this story, being our look at Brown and his antics. And I think Onion is a really fun protagonist, with Johnson giving a great performance. Next we have Ethan Hawke as John Brown, preacher and abolitionist. He is a fascinating individual, being really passionate about the emancipation of the slaves. And when I say passionate, I mean PASSIONATE, borderline fanatic. His heart is of course in the right place, it’s just that he’s maybe also a bit gung ho about it all, making his methods seem a little insane at times. But that’s what makes him such a fascinating character. And Ethan Hawke is terrific in the role, selling every bit of Brown’s eccentric personality wonderfully. We also get supporting work from people like Beau Knapp, Hubert Point-Du Jour, Ellar Coltrane, Mo Brings Plenty, Nick Eversman Daveed Diggs, and many more, all giving top notch performances.

The score for the show was composed by Jamison Hollister, and I thought it was really good. If you’ve heard a western score in the lat 30 years, you probably know what you’re getting. A fair bit of strings, high energy, and just a vibe that says “this is a fun western”. There’s also a fair amount of licensed songs used throughout, and they work surprisingly well in their respective scenes. So yeah, this show has good music.

Based on the novel of the same name by James McBride, “The Good Lord Bird” was developed for Showtime by Mark Richard and Ethan Hawke, with writing and directing by a whole load of cool people. And the craft on display here is superb. Usually when I watched a tv show, even ones on high budgets with super talented crews, I can still usually tell by how it’s shot that it’s a tv project. But I don’t really get that feel here. They’ve taken careful steps to make sure it blurs the line between cinema and television with their shots and camera movements here. This comes partly from Peter Deming’s beautiful cinematography, and partly from the directing which crackles with energy and feels so lively. This doesn’t mean that anything feels rushed, because the crew really know when to slow down and let moments simmer, creating a perfect balance between the fun, the emotionally charged, and the exciting.

This show has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 100% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 84/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7.2/10.

“The Good Lord Bird” is a highly entertaining, fascinating, and unique take on slavery-themed drama, and is one of the best shows of 2020. It has a great story, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, and fantastic directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for “The Good Lord Bird” is a 9.91/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Good Lord Bird” is now completed.

Ethan Hawke has two modes in this show: Low grumbly growling and PASSIONATE, THROAT-RUINING SCREAMING.

Movie Review: 16 Blocks (2006)

Cops. Men and women who have sworn to uphold the law. While they have gotten some shit for bad actions by certain individuals within the profession, I feel like we shouldn’t blame the police force in it’s entirety. While there are some bad apples out there, I’d argue that most cops are good. They exist to keep us safe.

Ladies and gentlemen… “16 Blocks”.

Alcoholic cop Jack Mosley (Bruce Willis) has bee ntasked with escorting a man named Eddie Bunker (Yasiin Bey, also known as Mos Def) to a court hearing so he can testify as a witness. However that won’t be as easy as Jack would hope because of some people who don’t want Eddie to testify at the hearing. And from this we get a surprisingly solid plot that I found pretty interesting. Now, the execution isn’t necessarily the best. I was never fully engaged in the story, and there were a couple moments that didn’t really make sense to me. Now, I’m not saying that everything has to make 100% sense, but this was one of those situations where the movie expected me to suspend my disbelief. Sure, I could do it at a few points in the movie, but most times it wasn’t too bad. But there’s a moment/scene in particular that just made no sense at all. So overall the plot is good, but it’s still not great. It doesn’t do anything particularly original and that weird moment I talked about briefly did bug me, but it’s still a better plot than I thought it would be.

The characters in this movie, while not the most fleshed out, are still interesting and pretty entertaining to watch. Bruce Willis is really good as our hero, giving a surprisingly vulnerable performance. That’s right, Bruce Willis is actually ACTING in this movie… something we don’t see too much these days. Yasiin Bey (known at the time as Mos Def) plays Eddie the witness, and he does a surprisingly solid job. Putting a rapper in an acting role can go horribly bad, but this turned out really well. David Morse plays a cop/old friend of Willis’ character, and he is great (like he is in most things). David Zayas is also really good. So yeah, all the actors in this movie did really well.

The music was composed by Klaus Badelt and he did a really good job with it. It’s really well composed, dramatic, and emotional. It’s also tense at times and really helps elevate certain scenes.

This movie was directed by Richard Donner and I think he did a great job. It’s very well shot and the action scenes in this movie are really well handled. But they aren’t the typical big/explosive action scenes, but smaller and a bit more realistic, which I liked. There’s also a fair amount of handheld camerawork in the movie. For the most part it is just fine, but there is one moment pretty early on where it’s just awful. That said, it’s just that one moment and it’s over really quickly. But I did think it was worth noting.

This movie has gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 56% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 63/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3/4 stars. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,6/10.

“16 Blocks” is a surprisingly good action-drama. It has a good plot, okay characters, really good performances, really good music, and really good directing. However it is quite flawed since there are moments in the plot that do not make any sense, and also a little because of that quick shaky-cam moment. Time for my final score. *Bang*. My final score for “16 Blocks” is an 8,62/10. So while it’s quite flawed, I’d still say that it’s worth buying.

My review of “16 Blocks” is now completed.

Bruce Willis actually acting… wow. Dreams do come true.

Movie Review: The Rock (1996)

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Michael Bay is one of those few directors that I don’t know what to say about. On one hand he made some decent movies like “Armageddon” and even the first “Transformers” movie. But on the other hand we have the “Transformers” sequels and “Pain & Gain”. His track record for me is something that have split me when it comes to my opinion on the guy. So now I am checking out one of his more well-received and popular ones. Yeah, people actually seemed to like this. But what does this guy think? Do I like it? Well I’m not telling you, you’re gonna have to read.

Men and women… “The Rock”.

“The Rock” is about an angry (and possibly crazy) marine general by the name of Francis X. Hummel (Ed Harris). He has with the help of a rogue squad of military men taken over Alcatraz island and imprisoned the tourists there. He also threatens to send a bunch of missiles filled with incredibly lethal gas towards San Francisco unless he and his troops get 100 million dollars. Of course you would want to take care of that situation if you were part of the FBI, right? But how would you do it? Well in the movie they decide to use a chemical weapons specialist (Nicolas Cage) and a 60-year old ex-con (Sean Connery) together with a team of people to take care of the situation. Why an ex-con? Because at one point he apparently escaped Alcatraz. To be honest… this plot is genius. It is simple in what it is but adds a few more details to it. Let me show you. Basic: Man takes over Alcatraz and threatents to send missiles on San Francisco if he doesn’t get money. Team of people have to stop him. Then they add some more layers to it with for example the fact that the missiles contain lethal gas and that one of the team members once escaped Alcatraz. I find it genius… even though there isn’t too much brain to be found here. I liked it though.

The characters are all interesting in one way or another. Our chemical weapons expert is played by Nicolas Cage, so you know he might act a little nuts every now and then. But by far the most interesting one is John Mason (Connery). Like I said before, ex-con, but he also has some of the best lines in the entire movie. He is also a badass who does badass stuff. Yeah. Overall the characters in the movie are all great and all actors did a great job.

The music was done by several composers. The main ones were Nick Glennie-Smith (Home Alone 3, Lion King 2), Hans Zimmer (Inception, Batman Begins) and Harry Gregson-Williams (Metal Gear Solid 2, 3, 4). The soundtrack consists of epic orchestra and some guitar (yeah!). It really works for the movie and fits perfectly. There was also a little help from Don Harper (Twister) and Steven Stern (The Asassination of Richard Nixon).

The action in this movie is fucking awesome! Yes, a Michael Bay movie with awesome and actually visible action! It does exist! It was fun to watch and the good thing is that there is plenty of it in this movie. The camera work overall was really good. Remember, this was before shaky-cam really existed. Also on a sidenote, this is the second review I’ve done this month featuring “The Rock” (A.K.A Alcatraz, also roll credits).

Like I said in the beginning of the review, this movie was well-received. Might even be Michael Bay’s best received movie. Anyway, time to look at the scores from different sites. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a score of 66%. On Metacritic it has a 59/100. Roger Ebert gave the movie 3,5/4 stars in his review. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10. The movie was also nominated for 1 Oscar in the category of Best sound.

“The Rock” is a cool, slick and visceral action movie with good acting, good music, a good story and some great action. Time for my final score. My final score for “The Rock” is a 9,73/10 which as you may know gives it the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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Review of “The Rock” is now completed.

Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and fuck the prom queen. 

Movie Review: The Green Mile (1999)

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Stephen King is one of those authors that writes stuff the majority of people who read it like. Personally I am a big fan of his “Dark Tower” series. Most people know King for his horror novels like “The Shining”, “It” and “The Monkey”. What some people maybe didn’t know is the fact that he also writes drama…yeah. Does “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” sound familiar? Well if it doesn’t, then you have missed out on the thick words there and with that, something great. But today we are taking a look at another one of his dramas, in movie format.

Ladies and gentlemen, the most voted movie in my poll…”The Green Mile”!

Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) is a guard on death row. More specifically he is a guard at the death row called “The Green Mile” (Roll credits). He works there with his colleagues Brutus “Brutal” Howell (David Morse), Dean Stanton (Barry Pepper), Harry Terwilliger (Jeffrey DeMunn) and Percy Wetmore (Doug Hutchison). They have a bunch of different criminals in there. But one day they get a special new addition to the group of criminals in there…a huge black man named John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan, R.I.P) who was arrested for the (this is not fun to say) rape and murder of two young girls. Sounds like a scary guy huh? But when he walks in he acts like the biggest softy ever (Scared of the dark, very polite and doesn’t seem like a troublemaker at all). Soon after, Paul and crew will find out that this man has a mysterious “gift”. Now that is all I can say about the plot without going into too many spoilers. Now, like most Stephen King stories, this is incredibly complex. And for you people out there who think complex only means “Mindfuck”…you’re wrong. For a story to be, all it needs are several layers…not necessarily mindfucking. And with that I have to say that “The Green Mile” succeeds with it’s multi-layered story and general well done execution. Not only is it a good story on paper, it is also really well done. But that is something director Frank Darabont is really good at (See “Shawshank Redemption”). With an original plot by Stephen King, an adapted screenplay and direction by Frank Darabont, the story comes together nicely.

The characters in this movie have more layers to them than a wedding cake. Not only are they incredibly well-written, but the actors are fantastic! I was especially impressed by Michael Clarke Duncan…that dude did a fantastic job in this movie. I was also happily surprised to see Barry Pepper in a really good role (considering he would do the worst movie I’ve ever seen one year later). One thing when it comes to the actors really surprised me. One of the inmates at the place was played by Sam Fucking Rockwell…wow. I am a big fan of his, so seeing him in this movie (pulling off a fantastic performance). You really thought he was this psycho hillbilly. So in general, characters have many layers and the actors are fantastic.

The music…oh my fucking god, the music. The soundtrack by Thomas Newman is fantastic. I am really surprised it didn’t get nominated for an Oscar. It is your typical oschestral/beautiful drama soundtrack…but that is why it is as fantastic as it is. It is your typical thing…but it is so well done that I don’t mind. It is as I always say…the idea can be as generic as it can get, as long as it is executed in a really good way.

The camera work…nothing special there. It is good, nothing more. I can also mention that this movie left me crying. If a movie can make me cry…good job you bastards (who worked on the movie), you won! Also, did I mention Sam Rockwell was in this movie? What? I did? Oh well, rather one time too much than one time too few. I was also very surprised how funny it got at a few point in the movie…good job Frank Darabont, your comedy in your drama doesn’t feel forced. Might also be good to mention that it is three hours long…so prepare.

Time for the reception of this little movie. Let’s see here…we have an 80% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes with a “Fresh” certification. Metacritic is by far the lowest with a score of 61/100 (damn). Roger Ebert gave it 3,5/4 stars, and I quote

The film is a shade over three hours long. I appreciated the extra time, which allows us to feel the passage of prison months and years.

This movie has a score of 8,5 on imdb.com and is ranked #46 on the Top 250 list (as of this review). The movie was also nominated for 4 Oscars. Best Picture, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Michael Clarke Duncan), Best adapted screenplay, Best sound.

This movie has a lot of depth in it’s story, the actors are fantastic, the music in fantastic, the camera work is good and it has Sam Rockwell (Okay, I’m done with that now). The only thing dragging the score down a bit is the knowledge of this movie being three hours long…even though it only feels like two and a half. But it also gets a pat on the back for making me leave it with tears in my eyes. And now I am ready to give this movie my final score. “The Green Mile” gets a score of 9,72/10 which not only requires you to add it to your collection, but also gives it the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
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Review of “The Green Mile” is completed.

I should probably go find the book somewhere. Also, R.I.P Michael Clarke Duncan.